Coun­cil rejects Barks­dale Green

Plan called for 14 town­homes

Newark Post - - Front Page - By KARIE SIM­MONS ksim­mons@ches­pub.com

On Mon­day night, coun­cil shot down a de­vel­oper’s con­tro­ver­sial plan to build town­houses on Barks­dale Road, choos­ing to side with nearby neigh­bors who have been up in arms about the project since it was an­nounced ear­lier this year.

The board unan­i­mously voted against re­zon­ing 1101 and 1107 Barks­dale Road and amend­ing the com­pre­hen­sive plan to al­low Daniel Kan­dra to build 14 con­do­minium town­homes on the roughly 1.38 acres where there are cur­rently sin­gle­fam­ily homes with rental per­mits. The pro­posed de­vel­op­ment, called Barks­dale

Green, was to be ac­cessed through a pri­vate drive off Barks­dale Road called Mar­jorie Way.

Kan­dra planned to rent the town­homes to fam­i­lies, re­tirees and young pro­fes­sion­als – not stu­dents – and had agreed to deed-re­strict the prop­erty to two un­re­lated ten­ants per unit.

Hill­crest As­so­ciates, a Penn­syl­va­nia-based ar­chi­tec­ture and engi­neer­ing firm, came up with a drainage plan for the area to re­duce runoff dur­ing heavy rain­storms, but it wasn’t enough to con­vince city coun­cil that Barks­dale Green was a good idea.

The project was not con­sis­tent with the cur­rent com­pre­hen­sive plan for the area, which calls for low-density, sin­gle-fam­ily homes with up to three units per acre, and coun­cil didn’t think it was ap­pro­pri­ate to amend the plan to make it work.

When it comes to Barks­dale Green, it hasn’t been the eas­i­est road for Kan­dra.

The plan orig­i­nally moved to coun­cil with­out a pos­i­tive rec­om­men­da­tion from the plan­ning com­mis­sion af­ter the board split 3-3 on June 8 re­gard­ing the re­quest to amend the com­pre­hen­sive plan. The com­mis­sion de­clined to vote on the re­zon­ing or sub­di­vi­sion plan.

A month later, the project re­turned to the plan­ning com­mis­sion for a sec­ond re­view af­ter City So­lic­i­tor Bruce Herron recommended it vote on the re­zon­ing and sub­di­vi­sion plan be­fore pass­ing it along to coun­cil. Com­mis­sion­ers ended up vot­ing 6 to 1 to rec­om­mend coun­cil re­zone the prop­erty from RS (sin­gle-fam­ily de­tached) to RR (row or town­homes) and ap­prove the sub­di­vi­sion plan.

Each time Barks­dale Green has been dis­cussed, nearby res­i­dents of Cherry Hill Manor have spo­ken out against the project, up­set by its prox­im­ity to their neigh­bor­hood. The scene at Mon­day night’s coun­cil meet­ing was no dif­fer­ent.

Robyn Har­land, a resident of Ethan Allen Court, said her neigh­bor­hood has drainage is­sues dur­ing heavy storms, and the ad­di­tional homes in Barks­dale Green would just make things worse.

“I’m walk­ing in knee-deep wa­ter in the road­way of Cherry Hill Manor when it rains,” she said.

She was skep­ti­cal that Hill­crest’s soil and flood­ing mit­i­ga­tion plan would im­prove the flood­ing.

“It’s not go­ing to change it,” Har­land said. “I’m telling you, it’s not go­ing to change it.”

Jim Green, who also lives on Ethan Allen Court, echoed Har­land’s re­marks.

“Ex­tra houses and ex­tra drive­ways on those two plots adds wa­ter runoff, no mat­ter how good the engi­neer­ing plan,” he said.

He thought the project was too dense and sug­gested Kan­dra re­duce the num­ber of units from 14 to four or six to al­low for more open space.

“It’s too big. It’s too tall. It’s just too much for a res­i­den­tial area,” Green said.

Re­becca Evans, a land­lord of a home on Ethan Allen Court, has said in the past that the height of the homes pro­posed for Barks­dale Green make her con­cerned about her ten­ants’ pri­vacy. The new con­dos were go­ing to be three sto­ries tall while the neigh­bor­ing homes are all one or two sto­ries.

She told coun­cil on Mon­day that she drafted a pe­ti­tion to re­con­fig­ure the pro­posal and had col­lected 41 sig­na­tures from res­i­dents in Cherry Hill Manor and Saw Mill Court, which is ad­ja­cent to the prop­erty off Barks­dale Road.

One of those res­i­dents, Katie Thomp­son, said she wishes she and her hus­band knew about the plan for Barks­dale Green be­fore they bought their home last year.

“We would have never made an of­fer on our home,” she said.

Coun­cil­man Todd Ruckle asked if city staff had re­viewed the stormwa­ter plan, to which Plan­ning Di­rec­tor Mau­reen Feeney Roser re­sponded that they had. She said Pub­lic Works deemed it “ac­cept­able.”

But Coun­cil­man Mark More­head wasn’t con­vinced. He said the stormwa­ter is­sues in that area would be be wors­ened if Barks­dale Green is built, and res­i­dents are al­ready pay­ing for a city-wide, multi-mil­lion dol­lar over­haul of the sys­tem.

“This de­sign is too much in my mind for this lo­ca­tion,” he said.

Coun­cil unan­i­mously de­cided to re­ject Barks­dale Green, but not be­fore one last-ditch ef­fort was made by Rick Longo, owner of Hill­crest and lead ar­chi­tect for the project, who scram­bled to with­draw the pro­posal in the mid­dle of the vote. Mayor Polly Sierer re­jected his with­drawal at­tempt.

Ac­cord­ing to Ne­wark’s code, re­zon­ing pro­pos­als re­jected by coun­cil can­not be re­con­sid­ered for two years. The only way the project could come back be­fore then is by a three-fourths vote from the plan­ning com­mis­sion or coun­cil.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

An artist’s ren­der­ing shows town­houses pro­posed for 1101 and 1107 Barks­dale Road. On Mon­day, coun­cil unan­i­mously re­jected the project.

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